Bristol City Council’s accounts show the Bristol Beacon, formerly named Colston Hall, has zero value – despite tens of thousands of pounds in taxpayer money being pumped into a renovation. The crumbling Victorian concert hall saw costs to restore the building surge after on-site investigators discovered the structure to be a “worst-case scenario”.
Doing up the Beacon cost a total of £106.9million, with the local council covering over half the costs.
The Labour-run council agreed to stump up the £54.5million in funding after deciding it was better to save the building than let it “disintegrate”.
Bristol Mayor Marvin Rees said last month: “It wouldn’t have been good for Bristol to have a major concert venue in the middle of the city and just leave it to fall into disrepair.”
He added: “Decisions about major capital projects which are needed to keep the material of the city together to cope with the growing population have been kicked down the road for decades but we are fronting them up now which is why we are talking about such large numbers.
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He said accounts showed the council has written off £39million on the revamp to date.
The Cllr added: “When the auditors and the valuers wrote off the £39million as the correct treatment, they would have forecast the future income or net profit from the venue over a period of years and arrived at a present valuation of future cash flows.
“But because the council doesn’t receive a rent, the money would be received by BMT.
“So the asset would be worth £10million to BMT but it’s not worth anything to the council because it is not getting any economic benefits from it.
“That explains why it’s valued at nil in the council’s accounts.”
A council spokesperson said: “Our commitment to the modernisation and refurbishment of Bristol Beacon is an investment in the city’s economy that will deliver a world-class venue for generations to come.
“It goes well beyond the value of the bricks and mortar that make up the site and relates directly to our duty to stimulate economic growth that benefits the city. These benefits will be felt by the local night-time economy and the retail sector as footfall increases, jobs will be created and tourism will rise.
“Beyond these direct benefits to the city economy, there will be indirect economic benefits felt from the education, employment and training opportunities the Bristol Beacon will deliver and support.
“Estimates prior to the works began put the total economic impact of the new venue and its delivery at over £410million over a 20-year period, supporting nearly 400 jobs a year during that period.
“This return will ultimately dwarf the initial investment made in the physical building itself. To say the site has no value to the council or the city is incorrect.
“Even as the building work has progressed, the Bristol Beacon continues to benefit the local economy through its music education programmes and events.”